Friday, October 30, 2009


San Juan Intern'l Airport
Day three flew by just like the previous. With a 4AM wake up call and leaving for work at 5:15, I was gone from the hotel before the sun had a chance to greet me. We arrived back after 7, missing the sunset. Dawn turning to dusk are the best pictures I could come up with since day 1.
The workdays were long but the work was enjoyable. This is our company's maiden voyage into Puerto Rico and we hired 8 guys to help a transferred manager open our new branch. Jose, the account manager, is from PR and came to our company 4 years ago as a college intern from the University of San Juan to our Miami branch. He now gets to transfer home with the opportunity to grow a branch of his own someday. The new employees were extremely pleasant people and after my two days of company and safety orientation, they were all excited and grateful at the opportunity to come to work for the best!
I spent the evening getting to know David, the branch manager, better. I have worked with him sporadically over the last 2 years as I service his Miami branch but we have never spent more than a few hours together before this trip. We spent much of the 3 days here together, training the new hires and dining with our clients. I found him to be a very interesting and fun personality. David is also from PR, originally, but left for Miami 23 years ago. We both continued working in our respective hotel rooms from 7-930 last night until we finally went to a late dinner together, which was really just appetisers and drinks; mostly drinks. We are planning to bring our wives over here next time, with a trip that will extend to the weekend. We spoke of work and the opportunity Jose has to grow professionally and financially here. At only 28, he could have the world by the tail. It won't be easy for him. He is operating out of his truck, with no local administrative support and all new hire employees. David asked me to keep in close contact with Jose so that he "doesn't feel like he's on an island." We both shouted back at each other, "Even though he is!" We laughed so hard it hurt.
Going to bed after midnight made the 4AM wakeup call hurt even more. I was at the airport by 5 for my 7:00 flight but even security didn't open until 5:30. After touchdown in Miami I will make the 3 hour drive home to my honey. Next week I work Monday in Venice and Tuesday in Bradenton. After that, it's a much earned weeklong vacation with friends from Arizona visiting us for the first time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


San Juan, PR
low of 80, high of 88
occassional brief showers

Today was work, work, work. I wasn't even allowed to bring my camera into the Pharmacutical Manufacturing plant where our company is doing the landscape now. The only photo I took was at 6AM, outside of my hotel balcony, of the beach in the morning light. As luck would have it, I'm on the 10th floor and my camera is in the trunk of the rental car.

After work I joined 4 colleagues and one of our clients for a traditional Puerto Rican dinner in the town of Juncos. The restaurant building is 78 years old. I enjoyed fresh caught mahi mahi, generously stuffed with lobster and crab. I can't tell you what the side dishes were but they were good. We drank Puerto Rican beer and even toasted our new business relationship with some completely illegal (for the restuarant to sell) Puerto Rican moonshine. They call it Pitorro.

For me, the most enjoyable part of the day was the many compliments I received, from both my colleagues and our new client, for my Spanish language instruction. Somewhere out there, my freshman year high school Spanish teacher should be proud. Gracias, Senora Cordova. Gracias Senora.

I have a 4AM wakeup call so I will close this and hit the sack at 10:30PM. Hasta manana.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Courtyard Isla Verdes Resort
San Juan, Puerto Rico
80*, 94% rh, brief showers now and then
My flight from Miami was delayed 45 minutes but otherwise uneventful. I have really come to appreciate Southwest Airlines, which I had flown exclusively until this month. I took an Air Tran flight home from DC last week and flew American down here. Southwest has a much better boarding procedure, despite not reserving seats, and they have wider seats with more leg room.
I touched down at 4:20PM local time and was picked up by a colleague from the company. Willie was born in NYC but spent his childhood living in San Juan. He gave me a nice tour of Old San Juan, which is where the above pictures were taken. The Spanish fortresses were quite impressive, although we just drove by.
San Juan was founded by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1508. The island is roughly 100 miles by 40 miles and separates the North Atlantic from the Caribbean. It is now a U.S. territory and Americans can travel to and from here just like within the States. Here's an interesting fact I found online:
Puerto Rico is close to the deepest submarine depression in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Puerto Rico Trench, roughly parallel to the northern coast of the island of Puerto Rico and lying about 75 miles (120 km) to the north. The Puerto Rico Trench is about 1,090 miles (1,750 km) long and 60 miles (100 km) wide. The deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean, the Milwaukee Depth , lies within the Puerto Rico Trench, at a depth of 27,493 feet (8,380 meters) in the western end of the trench, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Puerto Rico. The origin of the trench can be traced back to the beginning of the Tertiary period. The Puerto Rico Trench appears to be part of a complex system of sinistral strike-slip faults in the north Caribbean; the trench seems to have been opened continuously for about 70 million years. It is partially filled with sediments. The Caribbean's greatest known depth is Cayman Trench (Bartlett Deep) between Cuba and Jamaica, at approximately 25,216 feet (7,686 meters) below sea level.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
Record high of 93, low of 68, brief shower at 5PM
The fishing on Saturday was slow and small. Nothing worth photographing but I caught a Jack Cravelle, Catfish and a Needle fish (freaky too, you should google it). Rolando caught a couple of undersized Grouper, a Cat and a Perch. The good news was that it was a beautiful day to be on the water. The boat ran good and the wind/waves cooperated all day. We ran 53 miles.
We came home to a wonderful dinner prepared by our wives, Kathy and Kathy. I couldn't resist taking a picture of my plate before digging in. Fillet Mignon, pasta with Pesto, accompanied by those giant lobster tails we had purchased in Key Largo. I introduced Rolando to my other sailing buddy, Sailor Jerry's Navy Spiced Rum. This was likely our last supper together, as neighbors, since the economy has forced them to give up their second home, next to ours. We did it up nicely that night but we are sad to see them go.
Sunday I completed our fall yard renovations but installing new decorative mulch in our planter beds. The turf grass is drought stressed from our record high temperatures and lack of measurable rain but the red mulch really dresses up the landscape. We planted two new Coconut Palm trees, taking the place of a bamboo and an under performing queen palm. These two coconuts were "rescued" by me off the lake bank of a golf course in Palm Beach. We planted them in pots and they sprouted and really took off. Monday morning we awoke to find one of them ripped out of the ground. The short list of suspects includes a family of raccoons living along the canal. I knew they were trouble when I saw them wearing bandit masks.
It's Monday night and I'm packed for my first ever trip to Puerto Rico. I will drive to Miami tomorrow morning a catch a 3 hour flight to San Juan. I am teaching two days worth of landscape safety classes and equipment certifications. Our company opens up shop there, officially on November 1st. November will take me to more new territory: Boston, NY/NJ, Philly, and back to the Atlantic coast of Virginia, then working my way northeasterly across Virginia for a week.
There are two pieces of good news. One, I'm so busy because I'm still employed. Two, I have 2 separate weeks of vacation wrapped around that November schedule.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
70 at wakeup, going to 88 today
When Kathy told me we had a leaky faucet at one of the outside hose bib connections I figured a new rubber washer would do the trick. Oh how wrong I was. When your house is 27 years old things have a tendency to wear out and if you're going to fix something you're better off replacing that little something. Unfortunately our hose bibs are soldered on.
I went to Home Depot and met with the same guy who had sold us the kitchen appliances just after we closed on this house 18 months ago. He asked me if I had a propane torch and when I said I did he was very convincing in telling me I could do this. So much so, I bought materials to replace BOTH outside hose bib connections.
Back home I knew enough to turn the water off at the main but after 30 minutes of trying to heat up the copper and the brass, the old faucet wouldn't budge. I called one of the irrigation managers from our company. I recalled working with him in Phoenix and remembered he used to call this task "sweatin' pipe." "Well Josh," I told him, "the only thing sweatin' is me!" He asked if the pipe was still dripping water and when I confirmed that he said that as long there's water in that pipe you will never break the seal from the old solder. He taught me an old plumber's trick of stuffing bread into the pipe to stop the flow of the residual water. I went out to try it but realized the real problem was that even though I had turned off the main, with the slow dripping of the problem pipe, I had failed to open the valve and actually bleed off the remaining water from the system.
As soon as I did this, after a pint or so of water came out, applying the torch to the pipe heated it up immediately and I saw the old solder come spilling out of the connection where the brass meets the copper. The old faucet popped right off in 2 minutes. Using Josh's advice I made sure to sand down the copper nice and clean, inside and out. I learned this work uses a product called Flux, as a sort of primer for the solder. Josh said, if you don't get enough Flux on there it won't seal. You can't use too much. After fluxing both the copper and the new brass fixture, put the new faucet on and solder it in place, all around the connection. You will see, when you heat it up, the solder will get sucked inside the connection, creating a nice seal.
The first one went so well, we replaced the second bib on the opposite side of the house, in no time. Kathy said, "See honey, you are my handy man! You just needed a old house to work on."
Today, Saturday, I am launching the boat at 11:00 AM. Rolando and I are going fishing. I hadn't taken the boat out since September 19 and was worried about the batteries. I dropped her in the water and she fired right up. I ran the motor for 10 minutes in the canal and then did a 10 minute fresh water flush to clean her out. We have a nice return window from 5PM to 7PM. When we get back, both of our Kathys will have steak and Key Largo lobster tails waiting for us. Hopefully I will have some fish pictures to share on here tomorrow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
Low of 70, high of 88
I made it home a couple of days early. One branch cancelled their work force on Friday and another had their jobs so close together, I was able to see everyone by lunch time. I zipped across town and spent the afternoon touring jobs from yet another branch and watched them close out their equipment as opposed to watching them dispatch in the morning. The bottom line is I completed four branches in three work days and got home Thursday afternoon.
Above are some of the brilliant fall colors showing throughout Virginia/Maryland. The marina is on the Occoquan River, which is reached via the Chesapeake Bay. I was forced to arrive by car, unfortunately. The restuarant is Madigan's Waterfront, my second visit there. (The new title page photo was taken by Kathy in Key Largo last month).
On Tuesday night I had dinner at a bar/restaurant called Sully's. It's a great place, within walking distance of my hotel. While there I met a guy named Kevin Scully, from Boston. His parents came over from Ireland in 1962. It's not often I meet another Scully, especially spelled the same way. We shared a couple of Guinness brews and toasted our roots. I was so inspired I looked up the distance from Miami to Dublin, by boat. 4,152 miles. It would take about 30 days at sea, doing 5-6 knots in a sailboat. We'd have to have a lot of Irish beer aboard for that trip, lads.

Monday, October 19, 2009


On the road, Maryland/Virginia
30* at wakeup, 58* by 3PM

My current road trip started with a Sunday night trip to Baltimore, MD. I awoke to 30 degrees but there was little to no wind and the cold was controlled with a couple of layers of light jackets, which I shed by lunch time. Day one went perfect for work; very easy report to do. Monday night finds me 60 miles south into Virginia, near the Dulles airport. I get two nights in the same hotel, as I have two branches 5 miles apart in Chantilly. That is a rare treat.

I brought my Jimmy Buffett CD collection on the trip and it's almost as good as being on the boat. Okay, that's a lie but I sure enjoy the island music while trying to reason with the change of the season.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte


The first cold front of the fall season has arrived in Southwest Florida. We have had quite an extended summer here, with record highs in the mid 90's throughout October, so this was a welcome and much needed change. It will warm up to the low 70's this afternoon. We left the windows open and hid under the covers last night and that's always comfy.

Friday we drove to DeBary for Kathy's brother's daughter's wedding. We had a very nice time but I ended up pinching a nerve in my neck and I have been in pain now for over 24 hours. It hurt so much we changed our plans of staying up north for Saturday night and just drove straight home after the wedding. We have one of those massage wands and I needed some therapy bad. It provides relief when we work on it but I'm up at 4AM Sunday; still in pain.

I am flying out to Baltimore tonight at 5:45 and be gone until Saturday afternoon. I will be bringing our neighbors, Ronnie and Carol, to the airport with me as they head home to NY until February. I just checked the current conditions in Baltimore and it's 38*, raining with winds of 12, feels like 30*. The high today is going to be 49*. Oh boy. I'm glad I checked because I was going to just bring a light windbreaker but that's COAT weather, right there. I remember last March when I went up there without a coat and it was 12* with snow on the ground. I don't like cold weather. I wonder if I should try to get by with a windbreaker though, because when I start going to Boston and Philly it's going to be really cold and I don't want to spoil myself.

Ronnie bought a little canal boat from a lady here in town. It's a 12' Carolina Skiff with a 15 HP outboard and a trailer. He only paid 650.00. What a deal! The lady lost her husband in September and they were avid boaters, with a deep water canal home, 5 minutes from the harbor. She is also selling a 1979 Hunter 37' sailboat that is in wonderful condition for only 23k. Her husband put a brand new Westerbeke Diesel in board engine on it last year. I would love to sell my boat for that but I'd have no where to park it. Sailboats are not exactly bridge friendly. I did some comparison shopping and found that she is selling that for about ten thousand below what similar make/model/year Hunters go for. I read that the old sailboats like this are quite popular still because of the way the manufacturers applied such thick coats of fiberglass back then. It makes the older models much more seaworthy than some of those made today. That is good to know. I always wondered how those older models hold such value 30 plus years later.

Our friends, Nolan and Nancy, are coming from Arizona in less than 3 weeks. We have planned out quite the good time for them. I am taking a week of vacation time and we will spend a few days touring the Keys. The Sunday we are at home will be spent on the water, weather permitting. I have planned a 120 mile boat trip for us that will take us from home to brunch at Burnt Store Marina and then cruising the intercoastal waterway to Sanibel Island and back. I'm going to focus on that every time I get cold this week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 93
Above I posted pictures of my latest DIY home project. The deck steps leading to the dock had a board that was decaying. Each time I removed a board, I found another that had to be replaced. Fearing I may have to build a whole new deck I drew the line at 5 boards and a new step. I was pretty pleased with how it came out.
I haven't been out on the boat since my day out with Cardinals Chuck. I had every intention of going out last Saturday for 7 hours but when I woke up I realized how tired I was from a week on the road so I thought better of it and stayed home.
Last Friday night at about 11 PM Kathy called me out to the lanai (screened in porch for you city folk). She was hearing some very suspicious noises that sounded like someone moving rock around. I grabbed a flashlight and a handful of home security and went out to investigate. Our suspect turned out to be a large raccoon that was pulling all of the seashells out from the tree well of one of our grapefruit trees.
Last night Kathy whispered a shout inside for me to come quick! Since she was whispering with urgency I knew it probably meant the bobcat was back. We have become quite fond of this old girl (or fella, we don't know for sure). This is the third time Kathy has seen the bobcat and would only be my second but I missed seeing it as it headed off to the darkness in Bob and Eleanor's yard. My brave wife actually went out to get a picture but scared the cat off.
So today, the trifecta. I had been to Office Depot and came home, rounding the corner on my street, when I noticed two guys with what looked like SWAT TEAM shirts on. Turns out they were with the Florida Wildlife Commission and they were Gator Trappers. I stopped and dropped a window and asked, "Hey I live on this canal, did you come out for a gator?" One of them pointed to his feet and said, "You mean like this one?" HOLY CRAP!
I zoomed home to get Kathy and bring her back. The trappers were really nice guys and opened up the truck to show us the 6'8" reptile they now had in custody. I don't think I'm ever going down the deck to the canal at night again! Wow, talk about instilling fear in the hearts of men. The trappers said that more than likely the gators will flee from humans approaching but if you get one that's 10' or more they can be pretty brazen in their new territory. I may have to strap a side arm on from now on when I go down there. See what happens when a city boy moves out to the tropics?

Friday, October 2, 2009


Click on pictures for full screen

S/V Morningstar, a 1973 Irwin 50' Catch launches out of her homeport in Key Largo

Captain Rick has been doing this in Key Largo for 23 years

Kathy experiences her first ever ride on the wind

Bill dreams of someday sailing his own

With only the sound of the wind and the waves, Kathy concludes she could live this way

Flying the gib, we turn to sail into the sun

We were fortunate to have flat water but wished for more wind

The sun sets on Key Largo

We had it all...just like Bogey and Bacall...starring in our own late, late show....sailing away to Key Largo

The moon was not to be outdone on this evening

Kathy's first sail surely won't be her last

Captain Rick invited us to join him at the Pilot House, featuring the Glass Bottom Bar

As we settle back into the slip , the Pilot House will wait for another trip.

Back at Islamorada, the moon refuses to let us go quietly into the night